In general, an owner of a vessel or other property damaged by the tortious acts of another committed in the course of boating or shipping is entitled to recover for such injuries. But what of the time-honored doctrine of the paramount right of navigation? It has been said that a moving ship is not an insurer and is not liable for all damages that occur as a result of its swell. Thus, the issue presents itself. Every vessel sailing on navigable waters creates a propagating swell by reason of its displacement in the water. By what yardstick is liability measured as a result of subsequent swell-damages? Does the paramount right of navigation absolve a vessel doing a reasonable amount of damage? The answers lie in defining swell damage and the right of navigation, and in analyzing the case law imposed upon those who exercise that right.

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